Turned-Edge Applique: Challenge #2

Freezer-paper appliqueIn January, we started a new blog series addressing the challenges of turned-edge appliqué. The first challenge we identified was marking the lines, and we considered three different approaches to handle that task. Now let’s move on to the second challenge: turning under the seam allowance.

This is quite a big topic, so we will break it down and cover it in a number of posts. In this article, we will look at four ways to actually turn under the seam allowance – but that may not be your real challenge. The real challenge may be achieving smooth curves or handling inside points, outside points, circles, or skinny stems. We will address each of these scenarios in time, but for now, let’s look at the basics of turning under the seam allowance.

You have two main options. You can turn under the seam allowance before you sew or you can turn it under as you sew. Turning it under as you sew is commonly known as needle-turn appliqué.

Needle-turn Appliqué

Using the tip of the needle, turn under a small portion of the seam allowance before stitching it to the background. This can take some practice, so here’s a tip for those of you who are just getting started with this technique. Finger-press the seam allowance along the seam line first. This will make it so much easier to turn under the seam allowance with the needle because the fabric will want to turn along the crease you have made. In time, you will no longer need to do this step, but it’s a great way to get started – it’s how I learned to do it!

Turn under seam allowance with the tip of the needle

Turn under seam allowance with the tip of the needle

There are many ways to turn under the seam allowance before you sew and they can be grouped into three categories: thread basted, glued, or pressed.

Thread Basted

Thread basting would typically be used with freezer-paper appliqué. Cut the appliqué shape out of freezer paper, iron it shiny side down onto the wrong side of the appliqué fabric, and cut out the fabric leaving a generous quarter-inch seam allowance. Turn the seam allowance over the edge of the freezer paper and secure with a basting stitch.

Thread baste seam allowance to freezer paper

Thread baste seam allowance to freezer paper

After the appliqué is stitched, remove the basting thread and cut away a portion of the background fabric to remove the freezer paper.

Glued

The seam allowance of your appliqué shape can be glued to freezer paper, interfacing, or stabilizer before you sew. For freezer paper appliqué, prepare the shape as described above but secure the seam allowance with a water-soluble glue stick instead. After the appliqué is stitched, immerse your work in water to dissolve the glue and cut away a portion of the background fabric to remove the freezer paper.

Glue seam allowance to freezer paper

Glue seam allowance to freezer paper

Rather than freezer paper which must be removed, the seam allowance can be glued to interfacing (which stays in) or to stabilizer (which washes out). I am particularly fond of this Apliquick glue stick with its narrow profile and easy-to-see bright color.

Glue seam allowance to interfacing

Glue seam allowance to interfacing

Tools, such as these Apliquick rods, make it easy to turn the seam allowance over the edge of the interfacing and keep the glue off your fingers.

Glue seam allowance with Apliquick rods

Glue seam allowance with Apliquick rods

Pressed

A variety of options are available for pressing the seam allowance of your appliqué shape before you sew. Prepare the shape with freezer paper as described above, saturate the seam allowance with liquid starch, turn and press. The freezer paper can be removed before you sew so there is no need to cut away the background fabric.

Starch and press seam allowance

Starch and press seam allowance

Instead of ironing the freezer paper shape shiny side down, it could be pinned shiny side up. Then the seam allowance could be pressed to the shiny side of the freezer paper.

Freezer paper shiny side up

Freezer paper shiny side up

Instead of freezer paper, you could also press the seam allowance over a heat resistant template which would be removed before stitching.

Press seam allowance over heat resistant template

Press seam allowance over heat resistant template

There are many options for turning under the seam allowance for turned-edge appliqué. If we can’t get good results one way, it is good to know there is another way. Having options makes the task less of a challenge! Whether we turn under the seam allowance before we sew or as we sew, it is important to have a smooth turned edge – our next challenge. Stay tuned for part 3!

 


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